Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Week 39 - The snow flies - brrrr

So now the weather is getting colder.  It snowed today during personal study.  And the wind is bitter.  Already.  It's not even October.  Seasons change overnight here.  And last night it turned to winter.  I'm going shopping today for some winter stuff.  Wish me luck!  

Monday was so fun!  We decorated our apartment (I'll send those pictures next week...) and went to eMart (the best thing to happen to UB!  It's like Target! AKA America!)  and then ate brownies at this cute little cafe everyone recommended to us.  It was so fun!  Then we had a fun family home evening with a family in the ward.  We taught a lesson and ate chicken noodle soup.  

On Tuesday we taught English all day.  The students are really eager to learn! The lab is a new concept for them, but I think they will ultimately end up liking it a lot.  We finished English a little early because they had a University-wide sporting event, so that was kinda nice.  Tomorrow we will have our first full 8 hour day.  After English we visited a wonderful grandma and taught her about the Plan of Salvation.  It was a successful and fun day!

Wednesday we met another fun grandma. She has family who lives in America, and she showed us all of her pictures.  She's so awesome!  The pictures were so cute!  They love showing pictures here.  They all have photo albums and they always pull them out.  We love exchanging pictures!  I show them my pictures and they show theirs.  They are always amazed at everyone's hair color in my pictures.  haha  Then we had a district meeting and then we taught our family of investigators.  They are doing awesome!  They are praying every day now and starting to read scriptures! :)

Thursday we went to Sister Hansen's apartment for her BIRTHDAY!!! They had cake and spaghetti!! And the cake was from America (thank you, Hansens!!!) and I just loved seeing Sister Hansen and eating good food!  We went home to do weekly planning and then had the craziest day.  To start, our phone skills are less than great.  Mongolian is hard enough to understand, but when you mix the language with cracking phones, busy streets, and fast speakers, it makes an interesting combo.  So let's just say we ended up at 3 wrong bus stops and asked random passers-by on the street to talk and we got really confused for a couple hours.  But then we got it all worked out and ended up meeting with a new investigator. She is so nice and interested in learning about the Gospel.  The meeting went really well!  And she doesn't hate us, even despite our sad phone skills!  

On Friday we went to the countryside part of our area.  It's about an hour out of town.  It's beautiful!  And while we were in our first meeting, the rain came.  And poured. And poured.  And we stayed inside their ger and waited for the rain to stop!  And then we forged our way through rivers on our way out of the ger district.  But it was beautiful!  And I didn't get wet!!  I just got a little muddy when I stepped in a pile of mud that I thought was compacted enough to carry me. So ultimately my feet got wet, but it was ok.  We had 2 really good meetings out there and then met with an investigator in town.  That day was really good!  And they played 2 American songs on the bus.  And I LIKED it. Don't judge me.  

Saturday was another adventure.  I went out with Sister Bollwinkel a few weeks ago and found the ger of a family we need to meet with.  But that was a few weeks ago.  We went back to the area, but after an hour and a half of looking, we ended up at the next bus stop.  We were searching so hard on that mountain that we just walked too far!  Oops.  Those ger districts are confusing.  The end.  Then we went out to the countryside again, but the family forgot about our appointment.  We ended up playing basketball for about 5 minutes with some kids before setting a new appointment in the city.  It was really fun!  We played til one team reached 5 points.  I was on a team with a 10 year old boy and Sister Guild was with a 12 year old girl.  Haha  We were tied at 4-4 and then we scored the winning point!  Yay!!  I'm a winner! :)  Then we taught a new member.  I love my life!!

Yesterday was more like winter than fall, but I was in denial.  And after church, when our appointment was cancelled, we ended up searching for that ger again.  The wind was biting, but it calmed down and we met a lady who helped us.  We didn't actually find the ger, but the lady was so nice and we came MUCH closer than we did the other day.  I will find this ger if it's the last thing I do.  

Today it was snowing.  But life is good!  It's so good!  We write down 5 blessings from the day and it's been amazing to see how many I have!!  It's hard to narrow it down!  So you should all do that!  Life is a blessing!  I'm so grateful to be here!


Sister Bottorff

I really love brownies :)

Happy birthday, Sister Hanson!

Muddy shoes

Life's great on the rails!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Week 38 - Blessings are real

Hey!  I feel like I blinked and the week was over!  Where did it go?

I stayed super busy all week!  On Monday we had choir practice and then went to Kentucky Fried Chicken.  It was a blast!! I love singing in the choir, and I love KFC.  Maybe I love KFC a little more than I should … but oh well.  Then we had family home evening with an amazing member.  We talked about prayer and drew pictures of us praying.  Turns out I'm not a great artist, but that's ok! :)

Tuesday was crazy and it felt like 2 days.  We woke up super early and my Mongolian companion got ready and we took her to the church.  Then, we picked up another Mongolian sister who would work with us that day.  We worked in her area, and I was just amazed at how fun it was and how wonderful her people were.  That day we met with five people and all of the meetings went so well.  People were praying so sincerely.  They had amazing questions.  And I just loved it!  We had so much fun working together!  

On Wednesday, our Mongolian companion went off with other sisters, and I was kinda wondering how life would be from then on.  Just Sister Guild and me.  But it's been great!  Wednesday we had a mission conference.  Elder Funk of the Quorum of the Seventy came and talked to us, and we had amazing instruction all day long.  Sister Harper (our mission president’s wife) talked about staying positive and not fueling Satan's fires of self doubt.  All of the talks were so good!  I had fun, too, seeing all of my friends!  I love the missionaries here!  :)  After the conference, we had one meeting with an investigator family.  They are doing so well!  We taught about Joseph Smith, and I'm pretty sure they understood us!  The lesson was really spiritual.  I'm so grateful for that lesson.  And they accepted the invitation to be baptized!  It won't be for a while, but they are so good and willing!  

On Thursday we did our weekly plan and met with a super nice ward member and her new-member daughter.  They are both wonderful.  We shared a really simple scripture about how God will help us in our lives if we pray and keep His commandments.  And it turned into an amazing discussion about how we feel God helping us and what blessings we've received in hard times.  I'm so grateful for the testimony of others.  It makes me so happy to hear countless stories about how God truly loves us and knows us individually.  

Friday was our first day of English for this school year.  We are doing a lab, so 750 freshmen at the university are required to come for 10 hours during the course of the semester to get help. And other students can come, too, just to practice speaking. The day was packed.  We started at noon and didn't have a break until 5:30 when the librarians were closing the library for the night.  I worked with tons of students.  We practiced saying medical words.  That's not my forte, but by the end of the day, I was saying all sorts of new and long words with ease.  We practiced pronunciation and where to place the emphasis on the words.  It was fun!  And some of the people wanted to be my Facebook friend and get my phone number haha.  One of the girls kept quizzing me on her name.  And then as she left, she said, "Remember my name!  Don't forget me!"  Haha - she's so cute!  Most of the freshmen are 17 and they just got here to UB about 2 weeks ago.  I introduced myself and said I was 24 and their jaws dropped and they were like, "waohhhh..."  haha - I wasn't sure how to take it.

On Saturday I went on a split with my STL (trainer), Sister Hawkins.  She worked in this ward, so I got a lot of help.  I learned a lot about the area, so that was really good.  We also had fun going around and trying to meet with people.  Only one of the appointments actually came through, but we still got a lot done by learning how to get to people's houses.  We also had fun and got some ice cream and pizza for dinner.  It ended up being a great day! 

Yesterday was good, too!  I still understand very little at church, but I decided to not let it stress me out.  And church was MUCH more enjoyable.  I'm trying to focus more on the positive, and it makes my life so much happier!  It's amazing what a good attitude can do!  After church we made lunch and studied and then we taught an investigator.  The lesson was so good!  It didn't go as planned, but the whole family was involved.  And the Spirit was there.  And we left feeling so happy.  

I just love that even though I am doing hard things, I have been feeling such a sense of peace.  I'm not alone.  I have a great companion.  I have amazing support here in Mongolia. I have great support in America, too! :)  And most importantly, I have a loving Heavenly Father who WANTS me to succeed. And He's not leaving me!  I love this work!  I hope you are all doing so well! Love you!

Sister Bottorff

This wonderful sister just returned home from the Colorado Springs mission!

Did I mention that I LOVE KFC?

Holding hands with Olaf :)

These murals are fun!

We may be in the city, but the harvest moon is still beautiful!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Week 37 - Another great week!

It's been another great week in UB!  I love the city!  I love my ward!  Life is good!

Last Monday we had our song practice and I attempted conducting.  It was a disaster!  I literally didn't know what I was doing and I ended up jumping and stuff to get the choir to follow me.  It turns out I'm not a conductor.  And it's not as easy as it looks.

Tuesday we did service at a member's house!  It was so fun!  We washed about 100 jars for her to get ready to can all the things from her garden.  We washed as many as we could as fast as we could before we had to go to the American Embassy!  My companion got her visa!  Officially!!  Then we taught 2 less active members that night and both lessons went really well.  They fed us good food and I ate it all despite not being hungry.  I think I need to learn to eat faster so I don't have time to realize I'm getting full.  But I can't eat that fast...

Wednesday we had an English [teaching] meeting.  It was so fun to be back with the English crew again!  We solidified our schedules and expectations before we start this coming week.  I'll be doing a lab now instead of teaching.  So one day a week (sometimes 2) I'll be manning a lab with Sister Guild.  It'll be an adventure.  Then we had district meeting.  It was so fun!  We practiced talking to people on the street and it was hilarious!  Good times! :)  That night, we met with a less active member who is struggling with her health but is an amazing woman.  And then we met with an investigator and taught her two cute twins about service.  We challenged them to help their mom! :)  It was so cute!

On Thursday we did a big weekly plan.  We have hundreds of names and a HUGE area to cover, so we sat down and organized everyone by address.  And color coded them by relationship and their needs.  And it took forever but it will be a great help to us as we plan people to meet with and when we can meet them.  So far we've been going all over planet earth in one single day in order to keep our appointments.  This will be so much better because we will be able to set more appointments based on area.  

Friday we taught a less active family.  They are so amazing, and they are so nice!  They kept complimenting Sister Guild and me.  And when you're having a rough language day and someone still says you're good, it feels pretty great!  I'm so grateful for the people here.  They are truly wonderful.  Also, Friday was my mom's birthday, so I got ice cream!  Happy birthday, Mom!!

On Saturday, we taught a less active woman and her new member daughter.  They are adorable!!!  Then we met another less active member and taught her about prayer.  It was a really good lesson.  Prayer is so powerful, and it can be used anytime and anywhere.  Then, the Elders in our ward had a baptism, so we got to go and support!  It was so awesome!!

Yesterday we went to church!  And the Elders were fulfilling another assignment, so that left Sister Guild and me to translate.  Dun dun dunnnnn......Anyway, during Sunday School class, we were talking about obedience, and someone asked me to translate from English to Mongolian for him!  And I did it!!!  He spoke REALLY SIMPLY, but I still did it!  I felt so blessed to be able to help!  And I think it was a way of God showing His love for me.  He hasn't forgotten me.  He helps me every day.  And yesterday while I was translating, I realized how much I rely on Him.  And how grateful I am for His love.  The rest of church I literally understood nothing else.  My brain was fried.  But then we had an awesome FHE (Family Home Evening) with an investigator!  And we bore our testimonies and played [a game called] Don’t Eat Pete with M&Ms.  So Fun!

This week will be a big one!  My companion goes to America TOMORROW MORNING!! So Sister Guild and I will have an interesting week.  Pray for us. Haha  And we start English labs and have a mission-wide English conference on Wednesday!  I love it!  It's gonna be a good week!  I hope you all have a great week, too!  Love you!!

Sister Bottorff

Another picture from the mountains of Hovd

Serving others is living as Christ lived

You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes -
you can go down any road that you choose...

OK - we can't be serious all the time...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Week 36 - Learning about my new area


It's been another crazy and fun week in Mongolia!

On Monday I went to a choir practice and saw my beautiful MTC companion!  It was such a happy reunion!!  I have missed her! We also did some shopping and then had an FHE (family home evening) at a member's house.  They are the most humble and wonderful member family.  We talked and the kids were the sweetest.  The little daughter sang songs and the older daughter (about 12) just listened to me so intently even though my Mongolian was broken.  I love this family so much already!  I want to go back every day!  As we all sat down to dinner and talked, I couldn't help but feel so incredibly blessed at their goodness and humility.  They don't have much, but the love I felt made me want to cry a little.  But I didn't cry cuz that would have been embarrassing to explain...

On Tuesday we worked on visa stuff for my companion and talked with a ward member about the ward.  Then we visited an investigator.  It was busy but there's not much more to say about it. Haha  But we got xuushuur (ground beef or mutton pastry) that night!  

On Wednesday I went on a split with Sister Bollwinkel!  We roamed my new ward and I held a puppy and I was so happy!  I also ate cookies and was amazed by the beauty of my area!  It was so fun to go out with her!  We had such a great time!  Then, after the split, I saw Sister Wilkins and she gave me pep talks for touring the area and visiting all the members in the ward!  And then we were off to see a less active sister who is so cute!  She and her mom live together and we taught about prayer.  She lives an hour and a half away from the church, basically in the countryside.  I love going out that way.  

Thursday was also great!  MY COMPANION'S VISA GOT APPROVED!  She had her interview at the embassy, and we celebrated with ice cream!  And I'm so happy for her while also freaking out on the inside, wondering what the heck I'm going to do when she leaves....Anyway, I'm not going to think about that....After that, we went to see the ward missionary in our ward, and had a blast eating watermelon and getting to know her and teaching her.  

On Friday we had a meeting for English.  We are starting to do an English lab instead of classes now.  So I'll be going to the school one day a week and running a lab with Sister Guild.  We start in 2 weeks.  We also planned (for the coming week) and met another ward member.  Our ward is awesome!

Then on Saturday we met with a whole bunch of people all over our area.  It's HUGE!  And we were on busses and walking like crazy.  We went over railroad tracks, out in the countryside, saw horses, etc.  Life is so good!

Yesterday  we had church - I still don't understand the language well enough.  So we won't talk about that.  And then we taught the most beautiful investigator family.  The sister we taught last Sunday invited us back to teach her whole family.  And they are amazing.  So humble.  And so loving.  And so ready and eager to learn about Jesus Christ.  Even the 8 year old sat like an angel and listened even though my Mongolian isn't perfect.  She felt it was true!  I can't wait to see them again!

Today we hiked a mountain!  I loved it!  

I am so happy!  I've been trying to remember I don't have to be perfect.  I just need to have the Spirit and remember that this isn't my work.  And as I do that, I feel so happy!  I'm so grateful to be here!  I'm on top of the world! :)

I love you all!

Sister Bottorff

I got to see Sister Hanson again! Yay!



And ice cream with wonderful companions - what else could I want?

Jumping for joy!

The hills are aliiiiiiive - with the sound of, er, me jumping